North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, wearing a black leather jacket and aviator glasses, oversaw the launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), as shown on state television Friday (March 25).

Under Kim, North Korea has sought to give its state media a new look with digital effects and more modern ways to tell its stories. The leader starred in a Hollywood-style video for Pyongyang’s latest missile launch.

International online commentators compared the elaborately produced video of the rocket launch, with its flashy effects and editing, to the movie “Top Gun” or the South Korean K-pop hit “Gangnam Style.” The TV footage of the rocket launch sparked memes and remixes on the Internet, with Kim being referred to as “Top Kim Jong Un” or the video being called “Pyongyang Style.”

Thursday’s (March 24) launch was the first full ICBM test by nuclear-armed North Korea since 2017, and flight data showed the missile flew higher and longer than any previous North Korean test before crashing into the sea west of Japan. Kim said the test was meant to demonstrate the power of his nuclear forces and deter U.S. military moves.

In the video, Kim, flanked by uniformed military personnel, is shown in slow motion walking and pointing as the hangar doors slowly open to reveal the massive missile. The intense soundtrack speeds up as the shot quickly switches between Kim and the officers looking at their watches before the North Korean leader removes his sunglasses and somberly nods to move the missile into its launch position.

A countdown begins at nine.

Then one of Kim’s aides yells “Fire!” in slow motion before a quick sequence of shots shows another soldier waving a flag and then others gathered in the command vehicle yelling as one presses the launch button. Red flames shoot out and the rocket flies into the sky.

After the rocket disappears, Kim celebrates with his two main aides shouting “Hooray!” and raising their hands.

In the next scene, a smiling Kim walks shoulder-to-shoulder with soldiers in desert-style combat uniforms and body armor across the tarmac.

In recent years, Kim gained viral fame riding a white horse up the snowy slopes of North Korea’s holiest mountain.


(Production: Hyunyoung Yi)

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